[ilds] Eliot's Burbank, again

slighcl slighcl at wfu.edu
Sun Apr 22 19:29:46 PDT 2007

> I wonder if one reason why Durrell wrote Balthazar was to overcome the 
> embarrassment of some of the things he wrote, and meant, in /Justine/. 
> By writing /Balthazar /(not preconceived when he wrote Justine) he can 
> pretend to irony all along.

A very good wonder, Michael.  I have thought that way more and more.  
/Justine/ is a very slippery text.  Try as I might--and I and others 
have been trying here--I can't explain it all as LD knowingly ironizing 
his narrator all along as he writes /Justine/.  LD too often forgets his 
distancing from his narrator's voice.  The fulcrum of irony that he 
offers up in /Balthazar /simply can't push it all off on silly old 
Darley.  Some of the embarassing parts stick to LD.  Thus the right 
instincts of those readers who misread Darley's words without irony--a 
younger LD meant more of them than he would let on post-1957.

> And there is Durrell's letter to Miller: 'Gipsy Cohen burns black and 
> fierce under her Tunisian eyebrows; the flavour is straight 
> Shakespeare's Cleopatra; an ass from Algiers, lashes from Malta, nails 
> and toes from Smyrna, hips from Beirut, eyes from Athens, and nose 
> from Andros, and a mouth that shrieks or purrs like the witching women 
> of Homs or Samarkand. And breasts from Fiume. And what the hell?' 

A tremendous /blazon/, that.  Most grateful for the reminder.


Charles L. Sligh
Department of English
Wake Forest University
slighcl at wfu.edu

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